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-   -   Tumbled Stone Mosaic Tile backsplash question! (https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=83647)

CookieJ 04-11-2010 04:27 PM

Tumbled Stone Mosaic Tile backsplash question!
I am so glad I found this forum, I've been searching threads and unless I missed it I can't seem to find the answer to this question!

We are refacing our cabinets in natural select hickory, our granite will be Giallo Fiorito. The cabinets and granite are both fairly 'busy' and I want to keep the backsplash neutral as opposed to trying to compete with the wood and the granite....however I don't want boring either, so it's been a challenge to find the right tiles. It's a smaller galley-style kitchen, and our area between cabinet and countertop is only 14" tall. We found a 2 x 4 tumbled stone that we like that is a bit light in color, but once sealed/enhanced we think it will be perfect. These are meshed on a 12' sheet.

We're having the refacing and granite done professionally but we're going to do the backsplash ourselves. Our only tiling project to date is a large bay window that we did in 6 x 6 ceramic. When we had to cut the angle tiles we took them down to Home Depot and let them cut for us. For the backsplash, we know that could be hard.

Without investing in a wet saw, how do we cut these tiles?? We have to go around at least three electrical outlets, and around a copper wall mural that will go above our gas cooktop. Unfortunately the wall mural has a curved top, but I will try to avoid curved cuts, probably find a way to 'frame' it with pencil tiles or something! I found a Nattco Snap Tile Cutter on Amazon that cuts porcelain and ceramic, but will this also cut tumbled stone? If so it's worth a $40 investment, but we don't want to spend $300 on a wet saw or even rent one from HD if we don't have to. Any help would be appreciated!


Deckert 04-11-2010 04:50 PM

An angle grinder with a diamond blade, or one of the $80ish wet saws at Home Depot will do the job.

I'd skip the snap cutter if I were you. You will get a LOT more use out of the inexpensive wet saw, or the angle grinder. The angle grinder itself is a very versatile tool that you will find many uses for.

CookieJ 08-22-2010 02:10 PM

What have I gotten myself into...?
Hello all,

I thought we were taking on an easy project but now I'm not so sure and I have concerns. I will try to make this as simple as possible!

23 square feet of kitchen backsplash installed over old painted wall, above brand new granite countertops. New cabinets and countertops were done professionally, but the Handy Hubby and I want to do the backsplash ourselves because it looks so easy when Jeff does it on Spice Up My Kitchen on HGTV. :ct:

We have 28 of the 12 x 12 mesh-backed sheets of tumbled travertine mosaic in various shades of ivory/gold. We bought extra because we're smart and want to have tiles on hand if we screw something up. Handy Hubby has purchased the extension rings for over the 6 electrical outlets to bring the receptacles/switches forward the 1/2" needed.

We purchased from HD the premixed SimpleSet ThinSet Mortar in White. This says it will handle STONE, marble, ceramic and porcelain tile. The only other option was the one that specified ceramic only. From reading this forum I'm thinking that this is probably mastic, but since this is a backsplash, should we be OK with using this? I honestly want something premixed for this project.

We had purchased premixed grout and after reading up on the stuff I took it back. I see bad reviews about pinholes, shrinkage, hard to work with, etc. We were hoping to avoid having to make sure we're at the right grout consistency, but I think we'll take our chances, and I'm off to buy a bag of sanded grout and a bucket.

We want our tiles enhanced. We like the look when it is wet. The person who sold us the tile (specialty tile store NOT Home Depot or Lowes) told us to match a grout color to the tile in its DRY state, then use an enhancing sealer AFTER grouting because it would enhance the grout as well and they should both end up the same color. What I'm reading on this forum says that isn't necessarily true. I'm reading now to use enhancing sealer BEFORE grouting, and match my grout color to the wet/enhanced tile, then use either the same sealer or penetrating sealer over finished product. Is this correct? Also, if I enhance/seal before grouting I CAN do this while it's up on the wall, correct? I don't have to lay these 28 sheets out on the deck and enhance/seal before we even start the project?

And, can I use the same enhancing sealer over the finished project or should I use a clear sealant? We purchased the Stone Specific Enhancing Stone Sealer in a quart spray bottle. I'm not wild about the glossy finish that enhancing sealers seem to leave, but I'll live with that to get the color.

So please tell me if I have this correct:

*Install extension rings on each electrical outlet to bring switches and receptacles forward to accomodate 1/2" thick travertine tiles.

*Rent tile saw for 1-2 days, depending on Handy Hubby's handiness with said saw. (Do I have to have a wet saw for travertine? Seen both on YouTube!)

*SimpleSet Thin Set Mortar using small V-notched trowel installing 12 x 12 mesh backed mosaics, cutting when needed. Do I need to back-butter tiles?

*After installing all tiles use Stone Specific Enhancing Stone Sealer on tiles per directions.

*24 hours after tiling mix sanded grout with distilled or filtered water to consistency of creamy peanut butter and grout. Clean up as much grout on tiles as possible with damp sponge, but not too much water or it could affect the grout color or strength.

*24 hours after grouting cover entire surface with another coat of Stone Specific Enhancing Stone Sealer. Or should I use clear penetrating sealer? Don't want to buy two products if I don't have to.

*Make Handy Hubby an economy sized Jack Daniels and Coke. :yeah:

Sorry for the extended post, but I wanted to get it all out there. Thanks for any input!

cx 08-22-2010 02:33 PM

Welcome, Cookie. :)

Seems to be the second very first thread you've started here, so I've combined them.

Be careful with using enhancing sealers and "expecting" to get what the tile store told you. TEST each and every such product on the same tile you expect to use and the same grout, fully cured, you expect to use and see if you get the result you're looking for.

In my experience, the enhancer will have little or no effect on cementitious grouts. Some will do more than others, and some grout colors seem to change a bit more with the enhancer. But more often I see not much effect at all.

Make sample boards and test! Or be prepared for some surprises if you elect to just apply it to your finished product.

And I'd lose the organic adhesive (mastic, Simple Set). That Simple Set may say it's a thinset mortar onna bucket (someone should be doing jail time for that), but it's still an organic adhesive and still might cause some discoloration with your stone. Another place to TEST it on some samples, including waiting the full drying time and applying whatever sealer of enhancer you intend to use.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Houston Remodeler 08-22-2010 04:14 PM

Mastics take at least a full day to dry and shrink. If the walls are lumpy, you can't use mastic well to smooth things out. Thinset will be better for that. If you want to use mastic, go for omnigrip which imho is superior.

Like CX said. Test Test Test and see what you like. Travertine varies too much for us to give an opinion, and the results have to look good to you anyway.

CookieJ 08-22-2010 05:46 PM

Thanks to both of you.. I honestly forgot I ever posted on this board! :o Age I guess... and I thought I was starting a new thread, but..??

Just got back from Home Depot and Lowes. A 'pro' at Lowes scared me. He said that we cannot tile over our drywall. Even if we sand down the paint that is there, we have to rip out our existing drywall and mount Hardibacker because the mortar won't set on drywall paper. He tried to sell me the doublestick mats that you lay down instead, and then Epoxy grout, using a cake decorating bag to put the grout into each.. and...every.. crevice!! I read enough here that I do NOT want to use Epoxy. We want the grout to fill some of the holes in the tumbled stone and the epoxy doesn't seem built for that. I also know I simply don't have the strength to deal with that type of material knowing it's harder to work with. I want a standard thinset and a standard sanded grout.

There was a man standing listening to the Lowes guy talk to me. After I finished with him and wandered off, the man found me. Turns out he's done this a lot himself, and basically told me the 'expert' was spouting a bunch of hooey. He said as long as we sand down the paint and get the shiny surface off, we should be fine setting the backsplash on drywall. He said that the SimpleSet should work fine, but as you both said, TEST. We bought several extra sheets for just that concern. My plan is to use a quarter of one of the sheets, enhance it, then use the SimpleSet to mount it to a piece of wood, let it dry overnight, then mix up some Butter Cream and plop it onto the tile, then let that dry. If everything seems to work well on the sample, then we'll go play in the kitchen. :tup1: If I have to buy another bag 'o grout in a different color then that's fine.

Our travertine has heavy gold tones, it's Arcadian Stone Collection TC1 Giallo. Mosiac with 2x2, 2x4 and 2x6 tiles on one sheet. I enhanced one of the 2x2's that I took off the mesh and took with me to HD to match grout. The only one that came close was Butter Cream and the little bit that was oozing from the bag was SO yellow that I got a little concerned, but I also read here that it will dry 2-3 shades lighter than the 'sample' color, so that is fine with me as long as it has the same gold tones. Antique White has a lot of gray in it that just wasn't working with my enhanced sample.

I can test this grout but I have to open the bag to mix a little peanut butter sample, but if it doesn't work then I'm out that $13 for that grout, can't take back an open bag! But I guess that's better than putting the wrong stuff on the wall.

We want a great result, but we obviously don't want to make this harder job than it should be. We both have this next week off and planned on taking a few days to get this part over and done with. We decided to rent the wet saw rather than buying a tool we'll probably never use again. We figure with the very little amount of area that we're actually tiling, once we have the prep done we should be able to get into a groove and get it done fairly quickly unless we have troubles with the tile cutting... but Handy Hubby says he can do it!

I appreciate the advice here. If any part of my above ramble seems incorrect to you experts out there please let me know!

cx 08-22-2010 06:13 PM

Yes, your Lowe's "expert" was not only ill informed, but not paying much attention. Why would you care about your mortar "setting" on drywall paper when 1.) you're not tiling over drywall paper, you're tiling over paint, and 2.) you're not using "mortar" at all (but I think you should be).

Originally Posted by Cookie
I can test this grout but I have to open the bag to mix a little peanut butter sample, but if it doesn't work then I'm out that $13 for that grout, can't take back an open bag! But I guess that's better than putting the wrong stuff on the wall.

Yep, cheap test.

Originally Posted by Cookie
My plan is to use a quarter of one of the sheets, enhance it, then use the SimpleSet to mount it to a piece of wood, let it dry overnight, then mix up some Butter Cream and plop it onto the tile, then let that dry.

I would suggest you not use wood as your test board, but use a scrap of sheetrock, preferably painted sheetrock, to get your test as close to your actual conditions as possible.

My opinion; worth price charged.

tileguynky 08-22-2010 06:26 PM

Also, if you do not like the grout colors at HD, go check out the colors at Lowes. All grout manufactures make multiply colors in different tone ranges, even though a lot like to use the same names for two very different colors.

While sealing the stone, take care to not get a lot on the back and sides. This could cause bonding issues with both the mastic and the grout. You can seal the stone for grout selection, but I would seal the stone after it has been grouted. The pits might not hold grout once they have had sealer in them. Also, Let the tile and grout set for at least 3 days to allow as much moisture as possible to leave the thinset and grout. I am not a big fan of sealing anything 24 hours after you made it wet (mixing of grout). There is going to be just alittle bit of water on the stone with the grouting process.

CookieJ 08-22-2010 10:28 PM

Thanks for more advice... will do our test on drywall scraps. But I read several times on this forum to enhance/seal before grout AND after grout, partly to make the grout haze come off easier? TileGuy, you're saying that the pits might not hold grout. I can honestly live with that, I'd actually appreciate more of a textured surface if I can get it if that was the main reason NOT to do it before! I can take care to not get the sealer on sides and back. But now I'm wondering if I should take back the spray bottle of Stone Specific and get the quart of Miracle that was $10 more. :o Spray might be harder to control.

I am also relieved to know that my expert was incorrect. :) But I have one more question that my husband asked tonight when he called me from the airport coming home from his business trip! We have paint on the wall, but we also have old 'adhesive' or mastic or some such old brown/tan/grooved substance on the bottom 4" of the wall closest to the countertop. Our old countertop was Formica with a 'built in' 4" coved backsplash. When we removed that countertop to replace it with granite, that old stuff was left. It is not very thick at all, but it's not going to be easy to get a sander way down there to sand it down or off, and I worry about getting a chisel to it so close to my new granite, let alone in that very tight 2" space behind the kitchen faucet and the filter faucet. Can we use new adhesive on top of old adhesive? We will obviously get as much of that stuff off as we can but just in case... and we DO have to sand the paint, right? The adhesive won't stick if there is satin paint on the wall?

bbcamp 08-23-2010 04:50 AM

Cookie, if you have satin wall paint, all you need to do is clean it. Use something like Spic-n-span or any cleaner with Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) in it. You want the surface to be grease-free. The satin finish is fine, as long at the paint is well adhered. If you see the paint flaking off while cleaning it, you should scrape or sand it off.

The old brown mastic can be scraped off with a putty knife or a razor wallpaper scraper. Protect the granite by taping down some cardboard, but really, these tools won't be a problem. Get the surface as smooth as you can so your tiles will lay flat. Yes, your thinset will stick.

I do not recommend a spray-on sealer for health reasons alone. You can pour the sealer into a bowl and use a foam brush to apply it. The foam brush makes it easier to control where the sealer goes.

One of the things you want to accomplish with your test boards is to determine if sealing before grouting is really necessary. So, set 2 sections of tile, and seal one. Grout both sections and judge if the grout stains the tile where not sealed, and whether the grout stays in the pits where you did seal.

Testing is cheap, even if you spend a little more money doing it. You'd hate to make a mistake with your final product.

CookieJ 08-30-2010 09:42 AM

Thanks to everyone for their help. We finished at 10pm last night, only took us 8 days to prep and do it all! :o We had a great deal of replacing of drywall, removing old adhesive, etc to take care of, but the finished product is beautiful. We will wait about 3 days to do the final enhance/seal on grout and travertine, but a lot of the fear was taken away by all the advice I got on this forum.

It was definitely a much bigger job than we thought it would be. HGTV makes it seem like such a simple project, we should have known it wouldn't be that easy! We also found that tumbled stone was much more challenging to work with than the smooth 6" porcelain tiles that we worked with before when we tiled a bay window. Horizontal was easier than vertical, smooth was easier than textured tiles, etc... getting the grout to a workable consistency on a vertical surface was the most challenging, a lot of plopping/pushing grout in with fingers when it dropped off the float, stuff like that... ;) But again, thanks to all. One project down, 14 more to go.

bbcamp 08-30-2010 09:54 AM

Please post some pictures, Cookie! Especially if you have one of you grouting "by hand." :D

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